Romans return to Colchester with a new season of open-air performances in Castle Park
PUBLISHED: 21 April 2022
Castle Park Theatre has announced a brand-new season of open-air theatre in Colchester’s Castle Park with a series of productions that celebrate the town’s Roman heritage.
The Roman Season kicks off with a hilarious sideways look at the classic Hollywood sword and sandals epic, Ben-Hur from 3 – 14 May. Written by Patrick Barlow, the man behind the long running West End hit The 39 Steps, it features romance, betrayal, sea battles and that famous chariot race.
The Boadicea of Britannia Street, from 17 – 28 May, is a touching and funny look at friendship from Ade Morris. It follows a women writers’ group attempting to stage a play about the Queen of the Iceni who burnt Colchester to the ground.
From 29 May to 2 June, Castle Park's very own family show, King Coel's Curtains, will entertain audiences of all ages in a quest to cheer up the grumpy king. Then, rounding off the mini season, a new twist on Shakespeare's political thriller, Julius Caesar takes place from 31 May to 11 June.
Neil D'Arcy Jones, The Packing Shed Theatre, said: "This is a very exciting project to finally get off the ground. We've always wanted to provide a season of shows, rather than just a one-off, and we're really looking forward to inviting audiences into our new space.
"What we're particularly proud of is employing more than 20 locally-based creatives, many of whom were not able to work during the pandemic. Giving them the opportunity to show their talent and hard work is kind of what it's all about."
Forged in 2019 from a partnership between The Packing Shed Theatre, Colchester Borough Council and Colchester Events, this is the first time that Castle Park Theatre has produced a series of performances to take place in the park’s Lower Bowls Green. Castle Park Theatre is supported by Colchester Borough Council, Colchester Bid, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Council and other business sponsors.
Cllr Sue Lissimore, Deputy Leader & Resources, Colchester Borough Council,said:“Our residents have told us they’d liketo see more recognition of local history and more cultural activities in the town’s outdoor venues. So, I’m thrilled to see Colchester Events and Packing Shed Theatre joining forces to bring this entertaining and high-quality season of theatre to Castle Park. Through our new Cultural Strategy, we aim to create even more opportunities for residents and visitors to celebrate the borough and its communities through arts and cultural events.”
A new, purpose-built bar will be open for food and drink before each show and during the interval. Audiences can bring along blankets, chairs and picnics and gates open an hour and a half before each performance for visitors to enjoy the space.